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On this week’s main listening report we focus on Ligue 1 in France and wonder which teams will challenge for the title. This listening report is a shortened version of the regular weekly podcast. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above, while there is also a worksheet here.

World Cup Qualifiers

Ligue 1 Title Race 2013-14

Until recently when discussing the top teams and leagues in Europe it was common to mention the ‘big 4’ of Germany, Spain, Italy and England but now we can most definitely include France in that list as Ligue 1 starts to attract some of the best players in the world. In this report we preview the French 2013-14 season and ask which teams will challenge for the title.

Favourites

The two cash-rich sides of AS Monaco and Paris Saint Germain are clear favourites in this season’s Ligue 1 title race. Perhaps Paris are slightly more favoured to win the league as they are the current holders while Monaco have only just returned to the top flight after a couple of seasons in the second tier. Backed by Qatari money, PSG have some of the best players in the world in their squad such as Swedish star Ibrahimovic, Brazilian defenders Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, Argentinian playmaker Javier Pastore and his countryman Lavezzi, Italian players Verratti and Motta, as well as a host of French internationals all under the guidance of former French international captain and national team coach Laurent Blanc. Monaco’s financial backing comes from Russia which has allowed them to buy the two Colombians Falcao and James Rodriguez, as well as Portuguese stars Carvalho and Moutinho, in addition to French internationals Toulalan, Abidal and young starlet Emmanuel Rivière. The fact that Paris have already won a title in recent times should give them the edge but do not write off any side that has Falcao in its starting XI.

Dark Horses

Former dominant side in France, Lyon have had a poor start to this season and already find themselves in mid-table after only 5 matches meaning that it is already difficult for them to challenge for the title they last won back in 2008. Instead, many will look to southern side Marseille to try and break the moneybags monopoly. OM last won the title in 2012 and currently lie in 4th place in the table and will be hoping that French internationals Gignac and Valbuena, as well as the Ayew brothers from Ghana can help them surprise football fans in France and win their 10th French title. Only one other side has managed to win more French titles than OM and that is Lyon’s great rival Saint-Étienne who last picked up the winners trophy in 1981 and despite having started well this season it would be a huge shock if they were to win the Ligue 1 race this season. 2012 winners Montpellier and Lille, who won the title in 2011, have both started slowly this season and will be fighting for a European place rather than the title.

Predictions? PSG to retain their title from Monaco with Marseille in third.

Football vocabulary and phrases used in this week’s listening report

cash-rich sides: Clubs with lots of money

the top flight: The top division / Ligue 1

the second tier: Ligue 2

a host of: A lot of; a collection of

young starlet: A player with a bright future

write off: Rule out their chances

the moneybags monopoly: Try and defeat Monaco and PSG

picked up the winners trophy: Won the title

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2013-14Episode 186